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Ramon Johnson

John Kerry urges repeal of gay blood ban

By July 27, 2011

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John KerrySince 1985, in response the AIDS epidemic, all men who have had sex with another man since 1977 have been banned from donating blood, tissue and vital organs. Gay advocates have long argued that the ban goes to far. Just recently a straight man was rejected from a blood donation center for appearing to be gay. Gay rights supporters say there are more effective ways of screening HIV from donated blood than imposing a lifetime ban on gay and bicurous men, regardless of risk behavior. The FDA has upheld the policy amid yearly shortages in blood supply, but legislators, like Sen. John Kerry, are urging the agency to take another look.

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and colleagues in the House say they are working on lifting the ban. They released four points the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must act on before the ban can be lifted:
  1. How the risk of blood transmissible diseases in the current donor population relate to risk factors in donors.
  2. The root cause of Quarantine Release Errors (QRE), the accidental release of blood not cleared for use.
  3. If potential donors correctly understand the current questionnaire and if men who have sex with men (MSM) would comply with modified deferral criteria.
  4. If alternative screening strategy (e.g. pre- and/or post qualifying donation infectious disease testing) for MSM (and potentially other high-risk donors) would assure blood safety while enabling collection of data that could demonstrate safe blood collection from a subset of MSM or other currently deferred donors.

Sen Kerry said in a statement: "We've been working on this a long time in a serious way and I'm glad Secretary Sebelius responded with concrete steps to finally remove this policy from the books. HHS is doing their due diligence and we plan to stay focused on the end game - a safe blood supply and an end to this discriminatory ban."
August 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm
(1) Belcat says:

The ban, as being only on MSM, is plain ridiculous. It would make more sense to ban people who have had sex with more than one partner in the last 6 months and/or not had an AIDS test in the last 6 months – irrespective of whom you had sex.

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